When to stop deadheading butterfly bush?

Hummer09September 14, 2013

Sorry but I can't seem to find the appropriate forum to pose this question but since I live in Connecticut I thought someone here would have the answer.

When should I stop deadheading the butterfly bushes? I just planted them this year and they are happy where they are.

To me it is quite chilly over night lately and I'm thinking I should not be surprised and if we have an early frost this season and it's still summer for another week.

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

If I just planted them this year, I might stop deadheading them now. But I normally will deadhead as long as I can and have not had any problems from doing that.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 2:57PM
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Thanks Prairiemoon. I did just plant them this year and am in the same zone as you. Just curious, is that a factor? I didn't find anything about that researching this plant. However I will say that sometimes you do a search and come up with a completely different result from someone else even if you use the same words. I am eager to learn more. Please share.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 11:43AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Well, Butterfly bushes are known to be killed over the winter sometimes, although I've not had that problem. They do suggest that you leave their branches intact until spring and cut it back then. So, just to be on the safe side, I would allow it to do what it needs to do to prepare for winter, without deadheading, because deadheading will trigger the plant to put more energy into new flowers at a time when it might be better that it put it's energy into new roots to get it through the winter. I'm not an expert by any means, but that has been my understanding of it. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Hummer09 - you received excellent advice from PM2. I would add that if you can harvest seeds from your butterfly bush (assuming it isn't a sterile cultivar), that would allow you to grow many more plants for your garden. If you leave at least a few flowers on the plant over the fall and harvest seeds late in the season, chances are you can grow as many additional plants as you'd like (assuming you'd like more of them for little/no $$). I grew 'Black Knight' from seed via the winter sowing method three years ago and most of my plants are 12 ft. tall or more this year. I prune them in late March and they tend to bloom on new wood/growth.

Deadheading butterfly bushes won't harm them generally no matter when you do it. Pruning them is best left until March in our zone since I've read GW posts from those who've lost them over the winter.

An interesting/cautionary sidebar--Buddleia is listed as invasive in Pennsylvania. I've never found them to be a problem here in CT.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 9:49PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Actually I would deadhead all the way up to Fall. The flowers taper off as it get colder anyway, and I don't want the plant putting any energy into seed, and to put its energy into roots for the winter (exception would be leaving a few seedheads if you want to collect seeds).

Sometimes I also cut off the flowers on a first year plant or leave just one flower for observation. That's hard to do because the flowers are my favorite part, but this is so that the plant doesn't put any energy into flowering the first year that it's getting established (it will be stronger the next year, assuming of course it survives the winter).

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 4:10AM
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